I hate the Jaguars. They annoy me. They ended the Titans' season, and Marcus's season last year, and exist solely to play the role of below average team who decides to get up for pointless games at the end of the year, only so that they have just a low enough of a draft pick to select a slightly above average player, get 1 win better than the previous season, and do the same thing all over again the next year. Now, they make the Texans' awful O-line look awful in week 1, and they're the '85 Bears. Now, they DO have a good defense, but who truly believes that they are going to make any noise this year in terms of actually competing for anything? I hate the Jaguars for all of the opposite reasons I hate Indianapolis. At least the Colts (other than right now) are generally viewed as a competent team, and have had something that resembles success in the past decade. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is like the annoying next door neighbor "friend" that your mom always made you play with, who like clockwork, would get snot all over one of your favorite toys, break your favorite game, or turn the Playstation off right before you were about to win. Anyway, I am glad they have found happiness and can relish that role. Enjoy the 15th pick.
Reasons For Confidence: Pass Rush, Perimeter Matchups
Pass Rush: Dick Lebeau will have something cooked up and ready to go on Sunday. The Titans were able to get to Derek Carr twice last week due to back to back blitzes that Lebeau dialed up. This week, they face a less talented offensive line by a significant margin, and a quarterback whose poise under duress should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Carr's. The Jaguars are going to try to hide Bortles, so this front is going to have to make every dropback count.
Perimeter Matchups: Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews looked great last week. As Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis's chemistry continues to develop, we will see more of last week's red zone opportunities turn into touchdowns. In last year's game on Christmas Eve, the Jaguars shut down the run and basically begged the Titans to throw the ball, knowing that they could consistently win on the outside. Now, the Titans have upgraded the receiver position, and it may not be as simple as it was last year. The Titans will have to spread it out and be successful early in order to open things up for the offense.
Reasons For Concern: Jags' Pass Rush, Leonard Fournette
Jags' Pass Rush: This is a nasty front. The Titans' offensive line struggled last December against these guys, and now they have added Calais Campbell. The offensive line looked better in week 1 than the preseason, but that will not cut it. If the Titans want to win this game they absolutely MUST keep Marcus Mariota clean, by any means necessary. As we saw in Houston last week, this front can wreck the whole game.
Leonard Fournette: Last week, Fournette had 20 touches by halftime. With the Jaguars missing Allen Robinson, I expect no less. It seems like Jacksonville will win or lose games based on Fournette's production. The Titans did not look great defending Marshawn Lynch last week, and Fournette has a similar, tough running style. It is imperative that this defense wraps up, and makes tackling Fournette a group effort on Sunday. If they can slow him down, the Titans' chances of winning this game will increase exponentially.
Prediction: This can be said for most games, but the team who wins in the trenches will win this game. I am picking the Titans for no other reason than because I hate Jacksonville. TITANS WIN, 20-9!